We need this for our hearts today! Soak your soul in the Truth!
“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish.” Psalms 112:1-10
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Refrain: Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
These lyrics written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr., came to my mind Monday morning as I sang along with the instrumental version playing through Alexa. The bold lines struck a chord in my heart.
Indeed, COVID has been one of “life’s billows” (a great wave or surge of water) that has tossed us in so many directions that we have been or are today tempted to be “discouraged, thinking all is lost.” How interesting our minds and deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) work at moments like these.
The battle is not with COVID but with our thinking.
Is all really lost? Note the phrase, “thinking all is lost.” Is that true? What does God’s Word say about COVID or any circumstance of life?
The songwriter got it right when he said, “So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all.” That is absolute, eternal truth!
Colossians 1:16–17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Psalm 97:9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
So, today, do not listen to your thoughts but think His thoughts. Do not listen to yourself; preach the Truth to yourself.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You wouldn’t say it out loud, but you probably think you are the most intelligent creature on the planet. Why? Because you listen to yourself more than anyone else.” By the way, do you ever have a conversation with yourself or with someone else in your mind?
This preacher went on to say something very needful. “Instead of listening to yourself, you need to preach to yourself! You must preach the Truth to yourself!”
David does this in Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
For sure, COVID and 2020 has been filled with inconsistencies, false information, cancellations, deaths, life-altering illnesses, disappointments, fear, anxiety, abrupt changes, and unfulfilled plans and expectations.
Where do you run? Where do you hide? Where do you find rest for your weary soul? Where do you find strength to take the next step, to live the next day? The answer is found in the aforementioned scripture passages. Read and meditate on what David is saying. Put yourself in the passage. Preach the truth to yourself. Do not listen to yourself, your doubts, your confusion, your pain, your sorrow, your fears, etc.
The help of His countenance (42:5) will always be the help of my countenance (42:11; 43:5) as I hope in my God and praise my God while preaching the truth to myself. Counsel your heart.
“Hurricane Laura could potentially cause weekend issues in TN!”
“News Reveals Who’s Likely to Lose Power with Laura”
In no way am I belittling or making light of the devastating effects of a storm or of the reporting of news events. What gets my attention is that instantaneous news information from around the world keeps us on edge. There’s no moment to rest.
Sadly, much of the headlines are potentialities and prognostications. Once again, bait material to keep you coming back for more and to keep you on the edge of your seats.
Even worse, the land of “what if’s” or “could be’s” is a land of worry, fear, regret, and failure. It is not dwelling in Truth.
Now, here’s absolute Truth that should keep you on the edge of your seats!
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-6)
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:52-57)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
This is news that will one day occur, that will break through the skies! This is not breaking news to alarm but to give joy-filled anticipation!
Today, I am on the edge of my seat looking for the Lord’s return and the joys of eternity, but I am at rest in doing so. You see, this is absolute truth, and Jesus will return just like He said . . . on time and at the right time!
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
That’s all it takes for news anyplace in the world to reach the world along with its far-reaching impact due to the internet. It impacts the minds, hearts, and emotions of millions . . . in a split-second!
Even the worn-out announcement “Breaking News” still grabs the inquisitive minds of so many!
Early this morning as I sat by the fireplace reading Jeremiah 14-16, I repeatedly saw phrases like this: Then the Lord said to me . . . The Lord said . . . Therefore thus says the LORD.
Compare for a moment earthly, internet news and the words of God.
The news you hear in the world turns old in moments; God’s Word is never stale, it’s eternal and life giving (Psalm 33:11; 119:25, 89, 92-93; 1 Peter 1:25).
The news you hear in the world is often tainted by man’s viewpoint; God’s Word is always pure, perfect and true (Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5; John 17:17).
The news you hear in the world is always a symptom of a greater problem; God’s Word always correctly diagnosis the case and prescribes the correct remedy (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The news you hear in the world can quickly become irrelevant; God’s Word is always relevant and fresh for every situation of life (Psalm 119:89-96).
As I pondered God’s direct communication to and through Jeremiah to Israel and their subsequent response, I thought of my response to God’s Word as I read its pages.
Which affects me more; which grips my heart the most; which grabs my inquisitive mind? News on the internet or the truths of God’s Word?
Spend some time meditating on Psalm 119:97-104. In a split-second it can change your life, and it’s always for good.
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Who is the person you listen to more than anyone else? Bob Kesling (UT Radio Voice)? Brad Nessler (ESPN)? Shepard Smith (FoxNews)? Your children? Your wife? Your boss? Your co-workers? Men, the voice you listen to more than anyone else is . . . your own; your own heart. Throughout a day, no matter what anyone says to you, you always respond to it from your heart. See, right now, you are already responding to what I have written! This begs us as men to consider two truths.
You must not listen to your heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Just taking this passage at face value, what does it say about your heart? Do you want to listen to that which is deceitful, full of lies, and desperately wicked? Do you want to listen to a heart that you cannot fathom, understand, or explain? Then, why do you listen to yourself? I listen to myself because I like myself. I am selfish. I think I have it all figured out. See there, I am deceived. So that leads me to the next principle that is so needed.
You must speak the truth to your heart.
Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Instead of listening to myself, I must speak the truth to myself. There are so many wonderful, life-changing, “keeping me on the right track,” truths from God’s Word that need to be uppermost in my mind and heart. Here a few right out of Ephesians 1 and based upon my position in Christ:
Since Christ is the eternal expression of God’s greatest blessing, I am blessed forever in Christ with all spiritual blessings (3).
Since Christ is the Father’s eternally Chosen One, I am chosen in Christ; His forever (4).
Since Christ is the accepted and beloved Son of God, I am accepted in the beloved (6).
Since Christ is the full payment for my sin, I am redeemed through His blood (7).
Since Christ is the access into God’s grace, I am graced forever (7).
Since Christ took the wrath of God for my sin, I am reconciled to God (10).
Men, to overcome the deceitfulness of our hearts, we must constantly speak the truth to our hearts. Stop listening to yourself and start preaching the Truth to yourself today—that’s what we need to hear!
How ironic that after Tuesday’s blog, Cat Fights & Conflicts, our local newspaper, the Johnson City Press, would carry the following headlines later on in the day–Bombing Attempt: Deputies say Jonesborough man tried to kill with homemade device. The first paragraph of the story began, “A long-standing feud between two Jonesborough families boiled over earlier this month after a man threw a homemade explosive device into an occupied residence, according to court records.” A long-standing feud between two families. How sad. Where did it come from? What’s the source of this feud? Jesus answers this question in a conversation with His disciples as recorded in Mark 7:17-22.
When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”[g] 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
When we follow our heart, see what comes out? Nowhere in Scripture am I exhorted to follow my heart, but I am exhorted to follow Christ. As you can see from the Mark passage, following the dictates of my heart leads to sorrow, shame, and sin. When I turn my life, my heart over to Jesus Christ and follow Him as my Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13), since He is Truth (John 14:6), then I can respond and walk in the truth; I can count on the Truth leading me (Psalm 23:1-4; John 16:113-15); I can trust Him when my heart wants to go its own way because as for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30); I can then know true delight and life (Psalm 37:4-7a).
So, if your heart wants to “bomb” someone, mortify the flesh (Romans 6) by surrendering to the Truth that will set you free, guide your steps right, and turn your heart toward Christ.
The first time I can remember observing Halloween, I was five years old. How excited I was to wear my Yogi Bear costume, knock on our neighbor’s doors, receive candy, and then go eat candy! To me it was a simple evening of clean enjoyment. My parents made it that way. Instead of making an issue out of it, they just made sure it was an evening given to what was right.
Much has changed in 50 years. That’s why I am sharing two very well-written articles on the subject of Halloween. The balanced approach of John MacArthur’s writing is informative, practical, and spot on. David Mathis’ article adds to the first, but turns our thoughts in a direction that will make us think and hopefully understand, “The gospel changes everything!” Please be sure to read each article in its entirety.
I’m sure you will handle Halloween as you believe is right before the Lord. These two articles say what is in my heart, give the basic reasons for what we do at Boones Creek Bible Church, and why, if I am able (due to recent surgery) will be going door-to-door to GIVE out GOSPEL tracts and a GIFT to my neighbors. Oh, by the way, if you are wondering, I’ve grown out of my Yogi Bear costume. 🙂
As I read the following blog post, Undercover At Oprah Conference, my heart responded with gratitude as well! I am so thankful the Lord has led Boones Creek Bible Church to use the Answers In Genesis Sunday School material to instruct the whole congregation in a harmonious study of God’s Word. I am so thankful that God’s people are learning to give a biblical response for what they believe (1 Peter 3:15). I am so thankful that more and more people are getting on board and growing together in community through Sunday School. I am so thankful that we are learning the Truth, personally applying the Truth, proclaiming the Truth, and watching the Truth change lives. I am so thankful we will one day stand face-to-face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), and live with Him forever!